Friday, January 27, 2012

The Legend of Dixie Dandelion

My fire-fighting friend, Gypsy Jan posted this picture on her blog,  (Jan Morrill's Thoughts Over Coffee.  It was inspired from a real-life experience that hit close to home for Dixie.
Over 150 years ago, Dixie Dandelion fought a similar battle.  Here is her story:

The horses! Had to save the horses!
Without thought or hesitation, I ran toward the fledging flames, peeling off my buckskin jacket as I ran. The tanned leather wouldn’t catch fire, would be heavy enough to smother the embers.  But the wind whipped the sparks into frenzy.  Flames danced an evil, mocking tune.  They licked my boots, pulled my pants leg, sneered and laughed at my desperation.   
I flogged the beast with the coat. Frantic.  The barn twisted and yelled for help in the grips of a violent death struggle.   Oh, God!  The horses! Slaughtered!  Who would do such a thing?
Lips cracked from the heat, stealing my spit.  Eyes blurred and burned from the smoke. All around me the smell of burning grass and wood.  Unwillingly I drank the scent in, throat raspy and rough, coughed up black soot.  
A shadow loomed beside me stomping at the flames.  Who?  Didn’t matter. Thank God I wasn’t alone.
Inky’s booming voice outshouted the roar of  blood in my ears.  “They’s free, Miss Dixie.  They’s free.”
I heard the mares gallop past, the frightened whinnies of their colt’s right behind them.  Safe. All safe.
The shadow grabbed my arm, pulled me away.  No! I fought against his firm grasp.  Had to save the barn! 
“It’s too late, lassie.”
I struggled against Big Mike’s meaty arms when he pinned me against his big barrel chest. Tears sizzled on my cheeks.  I cried at my helplessness to stop the snapping beast from devouring wood, nails, hay, and leather. One last death rattle and the barn’s scorched shoulders folded and collapsed to the dirt.  
Anger deep inside my belly hollered and fed unknown strength into exhausted muscle and bone.  I ripped loose from Big Mike and stormed the cabin.  My hands shook as I buckled the 45 around my waist and grabbed the rifle from above the fire place.  Those son-of-a-bitches! I’d kill every one of them.
Big Mike caught my arm as I tore past. 
“Ya can’t shoot them all, lassie.  Let it go.”
I whirled and stared at his ruddy face.
“Let it go!  Are you loco?  They burned down my goddamn barn!”
“Let Jackson handle it lass. Don’t take the law into your own hands.”
“Jackson?”  I sputtered.  “Jackson?”
I kicked at him and screamed.  “Jackson ain’t here, remember? He rode away.  Just like he always does.   Just like that day on the wagon train. Rode away and left me to fight off Whitaker. Alone.  Always alone.”
And there he was.  Bigger than life. Stepping down from his gallant black stallion like a knight returning from some far-off crusade.  Long legs ate up the ground between us and he grabbed my forearms.  My heart quickened as the look of worry and concern inched across his chiseled face.
“Damn it, woman!"  He growled.  “Just say the words!”  
 He dropped his arms.  The heat from his stare withered my courage and my heart.
            “I keep waiting, Dixie.  But ya never say them.  Ya never once just say, ‘Stay.’”

Sunday, January 15, 2012

THE ROOK AND THE RAVEN----If you dare.

Yesterday I showed a friend the cover of my paranormal romance, The Rook and the Raven due for release February 8, as an e-book by The Wild Rose Press. She took one look and said, “What is a Rook?”
"Who is the Rook," would be more correct. Never-the-less it was a good question.
The Rook and The Raven was my first attempt at writing a paranormal romance.
Vampires, ghosts, shape-shifters, zombies, etc, etc. while quite interesting are overdone and are becoming boring to my taste.  I wanted a fresh idea. A new character. But who? 
If you are a regular reader of my blog, (and I hope you are) you will know that inspiration for my stories and characters often come from my dreams.   One particular dream sticks with me for a several reasons that I won’t go into. But it was from this dream The Rook was born.
Unique and exciting, Roark is unlike any character you have ever experienced before. Only the mysterious, witchy-haired Jamaican clairvoyant, Madame Katanga can give Raven insight into who this intriguing and powerful entity really is:
“You have something to ask Madame Katanga.”
Not a question, but a statement of fact.        
I took a big gulp of air that tasted like grass and herbs and squirmed in my chair.
 “Who is this Rook?
Bronze eye-shadowed lids closed, and she eased back into the chair’s fluffy cushions. A deep sigh shook her heavy bosom like jelly, and the bone-and-alligator tooth necklace resting on them rattled. She spoke a hypnotizing Jamaican melody. The room closed in around me, and I struggled for a deep breath.
“In the higher realm there be an army of guardians called Sentinels who protect all life and keep the universe in balance. The highest of these guardians be the Rook. Him is hand-picked by the Keeper of all-that-is.”
“You mean God?”
“No child. The Keeper, he not the Creator. Him be more like . . . hmm . . . Secretary of Defense. Only the most cunning and wise Sentinel can be the Keeper’s captain, the Rook.”

     Do you have the nerve to experience an unknown character?  If so, download The Rook and The Raven  by R.H. Burkett available February 8th, from the Wild Rose Press.

The Wild Rose Press named Best Publisher of the Year for the 4th year in a row by polling on Preditors & Editors.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Booger County Twilight Zone

My writing sister and close freind, Jan Morrill challenges us every week to "show not tell" with a writing prompt on her blog, Jan Morrill's Thoughts Over Coffee.  This week's test comes from this picture.  Too long to put in the comments of her blog, my story is as follows:

 Spooky that’s what it is.  Down- right spooky.
  I shouldn’t have stayed so long at the party.  
  Shouldn’t have drunk “just one more.”  What did they care all safe and snug in the warmth of their beds?  I’m the one that has to drive home in the wee, small hours of the morning—alone.
Damn trees, so friendly in the daylight, but in the dark—ominous, live spirits. Their naked bodies and skeleton arms reach out to catch the door handle of my weary yet spunky, baby-shit- green VW bug.   Hit the gas!  Ha!  Missed me.  Long, brittle fingers only rake the fender.
Heart pounding now, blood roaring in my ears, I check the rear-view mirror praying for pin pricks of light to appear, to reassure me I haven’t fallen into some scene straight out of the Twilight Zone.  Home is only a few miles away. But the road stretches before me like a slimy, slippery black snake.  Will it never end? Even the full moon is evil, hanging there in the inky sky—one giant orange eye keeping pace with me as I speed even faster down the serpentine road.
 What’s that?  High beams catch an iridescent glow and reflect back in a blinding, white light.   A person?  A deer?  Big Foot ?   All shimmering and silver the little figure glides toward me.  Slam on the brakes! Screeching like a banshee from hell, smelling like black, hot tar they catch hold.  The seat beat locks, snaps me flat against the faded, Tinker Bell seatcover.  
The little grey stares.  Huge, onyx eyes shine like glassy black orbs in the night.
A terrified heart hammers my ribs fighting to escape my heaving chest.  Guts twist into knots.  Sweat pops on my forehead.
 A light so brilliant my eyes ache pierces the dark.  An eighteen-wheeler!  A blessed truck driver!  I’m saved.
An eerie deathly- silent yet haunting hum.   Then nothing!
Blackness surrounds me.   No little gray man.  Gone.   
Reality or imagination? 
Somewhere Rod Serling is laughing.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Interview with Claire Croxton

Claire Croxton is a fresh new voice in the often predictable ho-hum world of romance writing. Witty, touching, and humorous, Claire’s first novel, Redneck Ex will be released January 20th from The Wild Rose Press.  Place your order now on
I’m proud to call Claire not only my partner in crime but in writing as well. The following interview is only the tip of the iceberg to this snarky, vivacious talented woman.   
Move over Jodi Thomas, there’s a new girl in town:
1.       How old were you when the writing bug bit and do you remember what your first story was?  I think I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade. I remember writing stories in a spiral-bound notebook. I was mad at my mother for making me take clothes to the laundry room and I wrote a story about a girl who could make things happen by thinking them. With a blink of an eye, the clothes magically ended up in the washing machine. Another story was about pixies who lived under the piano bench. They would nip at my heels when I wasn’t taking practicing seriously. Unfortunately, those pixies didn’t exist and to this day my piano playing is abysmal.
      2.       What kind of writing do you do?  I spent a great deal of my professional life as a grant writer/ administrator in Northern Alaska. I think I’m one of the few grant writers who has ever killed someone off for dramatic effect in a grant application.  Yes, we got the funding. I really enjoyed the job and had several writing opportunities including the creation of beautiful, glossy funding reports and working with authors and artists on children’s books.  Now, I write short stories, contemporary romance and women’s fiction. I love sitting in front of a blank screen and freeing my mind of all the clutter. There have been times when I look over what I’ve written and can’t believe I wrote it.

3.      What are the proudest moments in your writing life? Writing “The End” on the first manuscript I wrote. Lordy. What a disaster that work was, but actually finishing it made me feel like a success.

4.      What have you learned from writing your first book that will help the most in writing your second, third, fourth, etc., etc., etc.? I think the biggest lesson I learned is that in order to get your work published you have to know the genre you’re writing. That seems easy enough, right? No way. There are so many new authors who write their books and then try to find a genre to fit their stories. My first novel had it all: romance, domestic abuse, computer crimes, a serial killer and to top it all off, serpent handling followers of the signs. Talk about not being marketable! Every genre including erotica and fantasy has guidelines. You need to learn those and make sure your story follows them.

5.      Your writing has been described as “snarky.” Can you explain what “snark” means for those who are insanely curious but afraid to ask? Snark is just a nice way of saying smartass. My mama wouldn’t allow me to use such unladylike language, so I had to call it something else. So, I settled on snark.

6.      What is the best writing advice you’ve received to date and what advice would you give to a beginning writer? Fortunately, I found the NW Arkansas Writers Workshop and they helped me wade my way through the completion of my first epic novel. Dusty Richards told me to “just finish the damn book.” He taught me to write the story and then go back and edit it. Velda Brotherton taught me about sense of place and deep point of view (POV.)  I think the most important thing for all writers, but especially beginning writers, is to find a trustworthy critique group—or at least a few friends who’ll honestly review your work. You need honest feedback. It can be devastating to hear someone talk about the major character flaws of your dashing hero, but if your reviewers question him, so will the agents, editors, publishers and readers.

“I found REDNECK EX by Claire Croxton a delightful read, full of humor, tenderness and passion. A HOT story in a cold climate.”
~Jodi Thomas, NY Times Bestselling author,
4 time RITA award winner, and member of the Romance Writer Hall of Fame

“A hilarious, but poignant story of love lost and found under unusual circumstances. With a slightly twisted sense of humor, Croxton is a writer whose work is bound to create its own niche in contemporary romance.”
~Velda Brotherton, author of Stone Heart’s Woman
“Claire Croxton is the queen of redneck romance. REDNECK EX is gonna grab you like a bulldog with a prize bone. You’ll laugh, cry and fall in love with the down-to-earth, big-hearted Summer Leigh.”
~Pamela Foster, author